Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has said of the system of Mother and Baby Homes that, in administering the ‘ultimate inhumane sanction’ on thousands of innocent women and children, and in treating them as second class citizens, it ‘broke every rule of morality, violated decency and ignored the rule of law.’
Speaking to the Sinn Féin private members’ motion calling for a judicially-led statutory inquiry into the practices in the Mother and Baby Homes and related institutions across the State, Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said:
"We applaud the women and men who campaigned, the survivors who endured, and those few who stood shoulder to shoulder with them, for years lending their expertise and determination to bring these widespread and systematic human rights violations to light. They all deserve public commendation.
"We now need to establish the full facts of what happened in these institutions: the conditions, the practices, who was directly responsible, and who knew but failed to act. It is welcome that the Government has finally heard the public outrage and committed to establish a Commission of Investigation. It is now critical that we get its terms of reference right. These must be broad and inclusive. The scope must include all Mother and Baby Homes without exception regardless of denomination, the related institutions such as the orphanages and the Magdalene Laundries. It must investigate all issues of relevance without exception, including but not limited to the mortality rates, burial practices, vaccine trials, illegal adoptions, and more. Most importantly, the survivors must be consulted on the terms of reference. They deserve to be finally treated as equal citizens in this regard.
"We as a society have questions to answer and lessons to learn from our negligence and cruelty. But ultimately, this abuse happened with the knowledge and clear sanction of the State. Recognition of that responsibility and an appropriate expression of collective remorse, in the form of a State apology, need not and must not wait for the inquiry’s final findings. Remedy and redress must also be timely. Ageing survivors deserve some form of appropriate reparation before it is too late. Likewise, official commemoration should proceed swiftly. The dignity of identity must be afforded to every infant or child of these institutions that now lies in an unmarked grave."